Last week, 2 important aspects of TCI gelled for me. The first was the true understanding of the Personalised aspect of PQA (Personalised Questions & Answers), and then experiencing how it transforms discussion. Read this and/or this to learn more about PQA. Ben Slavic also has published a book called PQA In A Wink which I am reading at the moment and can highly recommend.
Over the holidays, I created a notebook file full of quirky pictures to support the acquisition of
‘terlalu’ besar’ (too big)
‘terlalu kecil’ (too small) &
pas (just right/perfect).
As the class was looking at the pictures on the smart board during the first day of school, it became clear that once the novelty of the pictures wore off, I lost the students. I puzzled over this during my evening dog walk that evening. I revisited in my mind all that I had done in the lessons, trying to pinpoint where I had stumbled. It suddenly dawned on me that PQA was not asking about the colour of the jacket nor whether the bike was big or small. That was incredibly boring because, honestly, who cares if the bike is red or green! Ho Hum… PQA is asking questions that relate directly to the students. I was so excited to finally get this that I couldn’t wait for school the next day to give it a go!
The following day I had great success and students were thrilled that I was asking them questions about their own personal lives, their likes/dislikes etc. For example, one of my pictures was a pictures of a man in a pink tutu riding a tiny bike with the word ‘sepeda’ typed and an arrow pointing to the bike. I asked questions such as:
- Siapa punya sepeda? (while pointing at the word sepeda with my magic laser pointer) then asking the student who had responded:
- John punya berapa sepeda? and then asking:
- Sepeda John terlalu besar, terlalu kecil atau pas? I then moved on to asking about the bikes of their siblings which also apparently, is mesmorising!
Another picture was of a tiny turtle dwarfed by a strawberry with the turtle labeled kura kura & the strawberry labelled arbei. For this picture I asked:
- Siapa suka arbei? ( One year 4 boy answered, saya suka makan arbei dan kura kura! It was pure gold!)
- Siapa tidak suka arbei?
- Siapa allergi dengan arbei?
- Siapa suka makan arbei dengan es krim?
I am still amazed at just how much questions such as these are engaging for our students. My only concern was that general questions to the class evoked an incredibly enthusiastic response which was at times deafening. Awesome that everyone is so engaged but so hard to manage and keep students focussed without lapsing into English.
Then after school Wednesday, I watched a webinar from the TPRS Publishing website which led to my second realisation thanks to Carol Gaab. The beauty of this webinar is that it is specifically for elementary language teachers. I have seen it several times and each time I watch it I learn something incredibly useful. I was delighted this time when Carol outlined several techniques she uses to minimise students calling out during PQA. She recommends asking students to do a given action if they agreed/disagree with a statement, eg berdiri kalau suka arbei, angkat tangan kalau tidak punya anjing. Once again, I couldn’t wait to try this idea and again, it worked so well and made such a difference.
So this week (week 2) I combined asking personal questions together with asking the students to reply to questions by standing/ sitting/ raising their hand etc and it was brilliant. One of my year 6/7 classes today arrived to class in an unusually unfocused fashion. They fussed around getting jobs allocated and with the delay became even further unsettled. Yet as soon as I started PQAing the pictures on the smartboard, they were suddenly quiet and hanging off every word. At one point I asked whoever had 3 dogs to stand up, I then asked each of the students standing what their dogs names were. This produced some hilarious names which had the students in stitches. However when I tried to move on to another question, the students quickly reminded me that I had yet to ask Winter about her dogs, who was not fussed at all that she didn’t get to share!!! We also had a giggle when Connor told me that he had 13 dogs but he couldn’t keep a straight face and then quickly confessed that he actually only had one!
A truly terrific week due to finally experiencing the power of the ‘P’ in PQA and learning techniques which help to keep us all in Indonesian!! My next personal goal is to learn how to incorporate awesome student contributions into our class stories! Imagine the story we could have created involving a turtle hamburger!